Liquid Colours

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Liquid Colours is the spiritual sequel to The Colours of Life, CFCF's 2015 song cycle that explored maligned '80s genres such as smooth jazz, soft rock, and worldbeat, yet managed to sound entirely sincere rather than ironic or condescending, and was one of the Montreal-based artist's most successful works. This time, CFCF (Mike Silver) focuses on the late 1990s, particularly the brief moment in time when "electronica" was poised to take over the world. Pop stars such as Madonna were flirting with techno and trip-hop, and drum'n'bass was regularly heard in the background during commercials and movie trailers. Liquid Colours is a continuously flowing suite of brief tracks that blend lush, sweeping synths with continuously evolving breakbeats, recalling LTJ Bukem and Adam F as well as the types of accessible jungle tracks Tracey Thorn would've sung over during the second half of the 1990s. Titles such as "Green District," "Retail Commune," and "An Impossible Condo" signify a sort of domestic fantasy, and the album seems to be tailor-made as perfectly functional background music (it's even released through a label called BGM Solutions), but it's so much more engaging than that -- just turn it up loud and it's a great dance record, as well. During the middle of the album, Silver slips in some more aggressive breakbeats reminiscent of Source Direct or Ed Rush, yet somehow in his world they manage to fit in with the relaxing new age vibe. The startlingly catchy "Oxygen Lounge" is a detour into bossa nova as interpreted by the Shibuya-kei scene -- not for nothing does Silver name another track after Towa Tei's album Last Century Modern. The album seems to drift into a vague sense of loneliness and emotional detachment after a while, but "Re-Identity" ends it on a positive, energetic note. With the astoundingly good Liquid Colours, Silver points to a bygone future which never really arrived and makes it seem like it's still on the horizon.

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